Fantasy Game Notes for Saturday: American League
Notable Injuries: Jose Mesa, RP (groin, day-to-day)
Game Story: Jose Contreras has pitched well against Detroit the past two years (nine starts, 62 2/3 innings, 3.61 ERA), and even though his strikeout-to-walk ratio is horrendous, he has allowed just two runs in his past 11 innings. Nate Robertson, on the other hand, has had a lot of trouble with Chicago. Juan Uribe has hit Robertson well (12-for-32, 2 HR), but left-handed hitters like Jim Thome, Rob Mackowiak and A.J. Pierzynski should struggle.
Game Story: Boof Bonser has allowed a whopping five home runs in 15 2/3 innings this year. Although his strikeout rate is quite good, he cannot be considered a safe start. David DeJesus is hitting well and displaying new power; he has good patience, and the only thing he needs to add to his repertoire is power against right-handed pitching. At this point, there isn't a more preferable pitcher for DeJesus to match up with than Bonser. Zack Greinke's peripherals are strong despite the fact that he didn't last an inning his most-recent outing. I expect a rebound here.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: Jeff Karstens doesn't have a lot of statistical history to go on, and what there is seems contradictory in many aspects, so there is nothing precise to lock on to. The best route here is the most simple one: Karstens has little upper minor league experience and was rocked in Triple-A, so don't expect much. Josh Beckett has looked good, but he hasn't done it against quality opponents; I'm not a believer in the man, so I wouldn't be surprised to see a blow-up here. Every Yankees name is either obvious or just not that good (Melky Cabrera), so get your joy out of the rivalry and enjoy the game.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: This Josh Towers is quite a contrast from last year's version, but it also helps that in his two starts, he has yet to face even one batter who hit 25 homers in 2006. The Orioles don't have a guy fitting that description, either, though he will face a lefty-heavy lineup here. With Reed Johnson and Troy Glaus out, the Toronto lineup is woefully short-handed in terms of right-handed hitters; Loewen should be fabulous.
Tropicana Field (indoor) 7:10 p.m. ET
Seo, RHP (0-1)
Notable Injuries: Trot Nixon, OF (flu; day-to-day)
Game Story: Position by position, the Tampa offense really does not have any weak spots, though it's still surprising to see the Devil Rays ranked third in runs and fifth in team OPS. The lineup is mostly right-handed, so I don't expect Byrd to do too poorly. Trot Nixon is questionable for the game but doesn't make a bad third outfielder if he suits up. Jae Seo has looked worse than he is due to a tough schedule, but Cleveland's offense is better than it looks -- 21st in runs scored but 8th in OPS -- so I can't recommend him here, either.
Game Story: Kameron Loe has potential because he keeps the ball down, but his home park betrays him; his career ERA on the road is a solid 3.46, with only two (!) home runs allowed in 83 1/3 innings. The Oakland offense, though, borders on punchless, especially with Milton Bradley banged up. What the heck ... I'll give Loe the vote of confidence. The Rangers have been hitting quite poorly lately -- the Mark Buehrle no-hitter being a notable example -- and Joe Kennedy has been pretty good so far, so he's an option. It is a bit risky talent-wise, but recent performance favors Kennedy.
Notable Injuries: Vladimir Guerrero, OF (hand, day-to-day)
Game Story: If Vladimir Guerrero is out, Horacio Ramirez instantly becomes a good spot start. With Guerrero and Howie Kendrick out, the only other productive hitter in the lineup would be Casey Kotchman. A left-handed batter, Kotchman would presumably have a difficult time with Ramirez, so in reality, you're not left with much offense to beat. Bartolo Colon is making his season debut, and it is really impossible to know just how well he will do. He has a good matchup, but considering how poor his 2006 was, it's best to just wait and see.
Fantasy Game Notes for Saturday: National League
Notable Injuries: Mike Gonzalez, RP (elbow, day-to-day)
Game Story: The Mets have knocked around left-handed pitching so far this season -- they have an .887 OPS against lefties, third in the majors -- but I am inclined to believe that is more the result of a small sample size than a true indication of their ability. Last year, they were 26th in the majors in OPS against left-handers, and, while adding Moises Alou helps that problem significantly, their lineup otherwise has not changed much. They also hit poorly at home, and Chuck James is pitching quite well and limiting his gopher-ball tendencies; don't shy away from this matchup.
Game Story: Anthony Reyes has had two near-identical, mediocre starts in what were good matchups for him; there's not much to glean, other than to say that I simply believe he is better than what he has shown us. This matchup isn't the greatest, but I still expect a better effort than what he has previously shown. Scott Rolen may miss the game, so Scott Spiezio will likely get a start, and he hits right-handers well. Chris Duncan also does almost all of his damage against righties.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: The Giants are 26th in OPS at home compared to 11th on the road, and their offense is poor enough that they will assuredly be a consistent spot-start crutch for the season. Edgar Gonzalez is a reasonable facsimile of a No. 5 fantasy starter best suited for spot starting, and he might be able to post a line similar to his start in Washington (5 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 7 K, 2 BB). Arizona's lineup is solid, and most of the regulars hit left-handers quite well. The game is in San Francisco, so the pitcher has an inherent advantage, but I expect to see Zito get hit around a bit, even though it may not necessarily result in a lot of runs scored.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: In April, it is natural to feel someone is more likely to have a solid year if they get off to a hot start. After all, you really don't have much else to base your opinion on, and we see turnarounds all the time. Wandy Rodriguez has had two legitimately-good starts, with positive ratios, but I can't buy into him without more information. Start Milwaukee's usual lefty-killers: Kevin Mench, Corey Hart and J.J. Hardy. The Astros have an .853 OPS against left-handers so far this season, so tread carefully with Chris Capuano.
Game Story: I recommended Matt Chico versus Florida the first time around, and Chico got bombed. In two starts since, Chico has been solid, so let's hope the second time is a charm. There is a good chance Miguel Cabrera misses the game, leaving Florida's lineup rather barren. Chico has yet to top five innings in a start, so don't expect a week-saving game, but don't sneeze at a quality start. Chris Snelling and Ryan Church are long-time favorites of mine who hit when healthy. They hit righties well, and Anibal Sanchez is all over the place right now, so get them in your lineup.
Notable Injuries: Ryan Howard, 1B (knee, day-to-day)
Game Story: Josh Hamilton may be raking right now, but he has just one hit in nine at-bats versus left-handers. In Hamilton's career he has never hit lefties well, and with the development time he lost, it makes sense that he continue to struggle against them. Play the matchup and bench him against Cole Hamels. Indeed, most of Cincinnati's lineup is poor versus lefties, and the Reds rank 28th in OPS against southpaws. On the contrary, the Phillies hit them well, so don't be surprised to see this is a one-sided game in Philadelphia's favor.
Notable Injuries: Rodrigo Lopez, SP (elbow, DL)
Game Story: I like Clay Hensley a fair bit, but he is just getting lit up right now. Wash your hands of him for now and wait until he gets back on track. Consider it batting practice for the Rockies; maybe preseason favorites Chris Iannetta and Troy Tulowitzki can finally get something going. For San Diego, Marcus Giles is hitting well, especially against lefties (.958 OPS). Khalil Greene also does most of his damage against lefties, so Saturday's game against Jeff Francis offers a cheap route for some middle-infield power.
Notable Injuries: none
Game Story: I am a pretty big fan of both starting pitchers in this game and feel the hitters will, for the most part, take a backseat in a low-scoring game. Snell's secret is allowing just one home run in 20 innings; he allowed 29 home runs in 186 innings last year. I am Brad Penny's biggest fan, but he is due for a regression. Fortunately, pitching against weaker teams like Pittsburgh can mask this regression.
Waiver Wire Pick Ups
Juan Uribe, SS, CHW @ Detroit Tigers
Adam Loewen, SP, BAL versus Toronto Blue Jays
Kameron Loe, SP, TEX versus Oakland Athletics
Horacio Ramirez, SP, SEA versus Los Angeles Angels
Chuck James, SP, ATL @ New York Mets
Scott Spiezio, OF, STL @ Chicago Cubs
Edgar Gonzalez, SP, ARI @ San Francisco Giants
Kevin Mench, OF, MIL versus Houston Astros
J.J. Hardy, SS, MIL versus Houston Astros
Matt Chico, SP, WAS @ Florida Marlins
Ryan Church, OF, WAS @ Florida Marlins
Chris Snelling, OF, WAS @ Florida Marlins
Marcus Giles, 2B, SD @ Colorado Rockies
Ian Snell, SP, PIT @ Los Angeles Dodgers
Please Note that the notable injuries are not meant to be a comprehensive report of each team's disabled list. For brevity, we include only day-to-day injuries or new additions for players you might otherwise consider using in these games. Long-term DL or day-to-day injuries to starting pitchers who were not scheduled to appear are omitted.
Adam Madison is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com and TalentedMrRoto.com. He can be reached at Adam@TalentedMrRoto.com